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Agile werken | Agile working
Agile werken | Agile working

Agile working is a success even during Corona

Agile working is ideal for teams working in multiple locations. Furthermore, Agile is now popular with many of our customers. However, although we’ve applied Agile techniques for several years, there’s always room for improvement. Scrums and Agile working is not so much about strictly following a particular methodology. Each client has their preferences, and we’ve therefore learned to refine our working method to suit each customer. Fortunately, this type of refinement is more or less built-in to Agile: the Sprint Retrospective.

NBD Biblion

We regularly work with NBD Biblion on development projects. And in recent years, more and more of these projects use Agile working and Scrums. During the latest two Sprints in their databank project, the Coronavirus meant that we had to adjust our approach. Naturally, there were no on-site meetings. Contact was made only via online conferencing, using tools such as Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. We’re pleased to say that Agile working made the necessary changes in communication straightforward.

Agile working with NBD Biblion

In this case, our Agile working takes on some unique characteristics. We use variable-length Sprints of 2 to 3 weeks. It is usual for Sprints to be carried out consecutively, with no delay between them. However, NBD Biblion prefers to have intervals between Sprints. An opportunity to gather feedback from users and work on the backlog. Because of this, our Sprints often include a two-week development Sprint, followed immediately by a maintenance Sprint. So we can correct any issues before we install the software in production.

Daily Standups

We’ve reintroduced daily standups, after a period where we only planned ad hoc calls. Regular standups offer many advantages. With just a limited time investment, we can discuss practical matters and status updates. Furthermore, we can respond quickly to new insights. The most recent Sprints were carried out by small teams, covering all the skills needed for the project. All team members took part in the standups, so all aspects of the project could be covered. Remote working made this very easy, as no travel time was lost.

Along with daily standups, we also introduced Trello, a product from Atlassian. This software provides a central repository for maintaining the product backlog. It also plays a leading role in sharing information between team members. Above all, it ensures transparent communication between BSL and the client.

Retrospectives

Many of these changes arose from our retrospectives, held at the end of each Sprint. The term “Lessons learned” is very cliched, but when applied to Agile working, change can be rapid and have considerable impact. The concept of Agile working means that all parties should be open to change, primarily when these changes improve performance. Given the excellent results from the most recent Sprints, we expect to continue using these methods in later phases of the project. Of course, we will continue to monitor all aspects of each Sprint, with every chance of further improvements in the future.

Scrum with other customers

The benefits of Scrum are evident to many of our customers. However, our application of Agile working varies with each client. Often the details vary with factors such as the size of the team or the type of development. We encourage this flexible approach. There is no “one size fits all.” Agile means that we can work with each client in the way that best suits them. Of course, we’d like to talk to you. Perhaps we can learn how best to apply Agile methods to your next project. If you would like to learn more about BSL, and our experience of Agile working, get in touch

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Drupal 9 replaces Drupal 8. Long live Drupal 7!

Drupal 9 replaces Drupal 8. Long live Drupal 7!

Drupal 9 arrived last year, and Drupal 8 is end-of-life in November 2021. Nothing strange about this. But did you know that Drupal 7’s life has been extended to November 2022? Due to the high number of active users, it will remain in use longer than Drupal 8! Nevertheless, if you’re still using Drupal 7, you’re drinking in the last chance saloon, and it’s time to plan your transition to Drupal 9.

BSL delivers a new Pulse importer using the Forrester API

BSL delivers a new Pulse importer using the Forrester API

We developed our “Pulse” Business Intelligence Software for PwC. It’s a global service, maintained and supported by BSL. Pulse imports thousands of documents daily from commercial content providers and website feeds, delivering personal briefings to PwC subscribers throughout the PwC organisation. At the request of PwC, we recently created a new importer for Forrester using their API.

Outsourcing, retainers and long-term development partnerships

Outsourcing, retainers and long-term development partnerships

It’s not always straightforward for even large companies to create cutting edge development teams, as their core business may not be related to IT. Moreover, even when IT is a significant part of their business, there is frequently a wide gap between delivering core services and innovating with new technologies. BSL offers development services that can help fill the gap.

Machine Learning technology for Library services

Machine Learning technology for Library services

We’ve worked for many years with NBD Biblion, a unique organisation that selects and distributes books to public libraries in the Netherlands. They recently introduced Machine Learning (ML) technology to automate their client recommendations. After this success, NBD Biblion asked BSL to integrate a new Machine Learning service with MIPS, developed by BSL.

Drinks and a movie at BSL

Drinks and a movie at BSL

Enjoying a few drinks and watching a film together was a regular feature of life at BSL. I write ‘was’ because COVID-19 has kept most of us working from home. As a result, sharing a drink and watching a film together has not been an option. So instead, we’ve organised Digi-parties, Easter surprises and other events. Most recently, we arranged for everyone to enjoy a movie at home.

Two BSL anniversaries in May, time for a party

Two BSL anniversaries in May, time for a party

Two BSL anniversaries this week. Senior developer Peter Verbaan has been a key resource within BSL for 15 years, and front-end developer Roderick Gadellaa for 5 years. Reason enough for a party, you might say, and that’s something we love at the “Bright Side of Life.” For now, Corona makes this impossible, so it’s an online drink and a virtual hug.

Designing a simple phone app for 1888 information numbers

Designing a simple phone app for 1888 information numbers

1850 BV has asked us to design and develop a new simple phone app for Android and iOS, designed to help people who have difficulty using modern smartphones. After all, not everyone is excited about all the hundreds of features provided by a typical smartphone. It’s hard for people who lack the technological skills to figure all this stuff out. And or course, many simply find tiny screens challenging.

Early to market? Try developing a Minimum Viable Product

Early to market? Try developing a Minimum Viable Product

Entrepreneurs frequently contact us with ideas for their ground-breaking app, web-service, or web application. Their market research completed, business plan ready, financial backing sorted. They want to start, and get their product to the market as quickly as possible. This is when we introduce the concept of an MVP or Minimum Viable Product.

The Entoen Nu app makes history lessons easy

The Entoen Nu app makes history lessons easy

Do you sometimes have trouble with Dutch history? The EnToen Nu app is intended for those interested in Dutch culture and history, particularly children from grade 5 up to and including secondary school. It can be used at school, and at home. We’ve recently updated the app, adding support for the latest version of the Canon of the Netherlands.

SRS: New Job Model and Access Governance Foundation

SRS: New Job Model and Access Governance Foundation

Since developing the original Signature Registration System (SRS) on behalf of a large international bank we’ve made many changes. Migrating SRS to an Azure SQL cloud service is our current focus, but earlier this year we worked on two other infrastructure changes: Introducing NJM (New Job Model) and AGF (Access Governance Foundation) support in SRS.

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 2

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 2

In recent months, two clients have asked us to migrate legacy Oracle systems to Azure. In the previous blog, we explained how our tiered web applications make it easy to maintain our software and to migrate from one database to another. We asked Eric Wijnands to tell us about one of these migrations, moving a Banking solution from Oracle to Azure SQL.

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 1

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 1

Is Azure the flavour of the month? We’ve been approached by two clients in recent months to help them transition legacy Oracle systems to an Azure Cloud database. We’ve been building tiered database solutions for many years, with Front-end web applications calling web-services that use Oracle databases for storage. Just how easy is it to migrate these applications to Azure?

BSL creates a new Corporate site for WCC Group

BSL creates a new Corporate site for WCC Group

The WCC Group is a leading provider of advanced solutions for Public & Private Employment Services and ID/Security government agencies. Two years ago we designed and developed a dedicated Careers site to help find the specialized personnel needed to support their rapid expansion. This year they asked us to create a new, modern, responsive Corporate site.

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson – Part 2

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson – Part 2

In his previous blog, Martyn introduced us to his time working for Computervision/CIS, creating custom solutions for their clients. Experiences that he uses daily within BSL. After leaving CV, he continued to travel, working firstly with a company you’ve maybe never heard of (although you’ve probably used their products). And then with a company that you all know: Apple Computer.

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson

So rounding off our current series of Bright Stories, it’s the turn of Martyn, our director. Martyn created the Bright Side of Life more than 25 years ago, and he’s been developing software since 1977. It’s not easy to condense 43 years of software development into a single blog, so in this first part, we find out just why he became a software developer, with some “Lessons Learned” on the way.

Front-end Developer – Roderick Gadellaa

Front-end Developer – Roderick Gadellaa

Continuing our “Bright Stories”, this week we turn our attention to Front-end Developer, Roderick Gadellaa. Someone with a very sweet tooth, and who enjoys solving design and UX problems. You’ll frequently find him on Twitter, tweeting about design changes and concepts. Here at BSL, Roderick’s enthusiastic whistling and singing are part of our soundscape!

PA / Customer Relations Manager – Caroline Bos

PA / Customer Relations Manager – Caroline Bos

As part of our “Bright Stories” series, it’s now the turn of Caroline, PA / Customer Relations Manager at BSL. We tell you why her varied background, outgoing personality, and talent for organization make her ideal for the role. Connecting and communication with people is in her DNA! Having worked nearly 8 years at BSL, she plays a pivotal role in our organization.

Software Developer – Jurjen Schröder

Software Developer – Jurjen Schröder

Our “Bright Stories” campaign is your chance to get to know some of the talented individuals that make up the Bright Side of Software. This week, the spotlight is on one of our software developers: Jurjen Schröder. An opportunity to find out more about Jurjen, and at the same time discover why he keeps some very unusual housemates!

NBD’s LiteRom and Uittrekselbank online websites refreshed

NBD’s LiteRom and Uittrekselbank online websites refreshed

Agile development is part of our culture. During two recent Sprints, BSL delivered new versions of NBD’s Literom and Uittrekselbank online web services. LiteRom contains thousands of book reviews, as well as many articles about authors. Uittrekselbank subscribers can access thousands of extracts about books, as well as detailed author profiles. Find out more in our blog…

Working from home, but staying connected

Working from home, but staying connected

We’re working from home as much as possible due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We’re doing all we can to keep Business as Usual. Technical innovation is part of our DNA, and so we’re perhaps finding this easier than others. Nevertheless, we are having to change the way we work in response to these challenges. Our blog tells you about some of the steps we are taking.

Eric Wijnands, Designer and Developer, with a love of Jazz

Eric Wijnands, Designer and Developer, with a love of Jazz

BSL has always looked for designer and developer candidates who have their own stories to tell. Rounded individuals who offer more than just IT skills. Our work frequently begins with understanding the work carried out by our clients. So we supply inventive teams that deliver usable, productive solutions – not just code. Offering designers and developers with wide interests outside of IT.

Long-term relationships brings rewards to clients

Long-term relationships brings rewards to clients

2019 is a year where our long-term relationships with clients have kept us extremely busy. BSL provides highly skilled teams that complement our clients’ needs. As a result, we respond quickly to new demands. Designing, developing and delivering unique applications. This year we’ve worked on many new developments for existing clients.

Moscow performance for Marc Stoffels

Moscow performance for Marc Stoffels

Before Marc Stoffels made the move into IT, he was an actor. One of the theatre companies where he played, Het Houten Huis was recently invited to bring their performance to Moscow. A trip to Moscow is an experience in itself, and BSL didn’t want to deprive him of the opportunity. But with one condition – we asked him to write a blog about his trip!

Conversational Design helps increase conversion rates

Conversational Design helps increase conversion rates

Many websites ask visitors to share their contact details. And for many years the best anyone could come up with is a contact form. There are ways to make such forms more inviting, but a contact form shares many characteristics with a nightclub bouncer – it keeps people out. So we’ve started using Conversational Design UI’s. A technique that puts website visitors at their ease…

Don’t know your MVP from your SUV, read on…

Don’t know your MVP from your SUV, read on…

At the Bright Side of Life it’s in our blood to help clients to think about their needs, and to work with them to define the features needed in a first release. Going for an all singing and dancing first release is rarely the right approach. Focus on what you need – an MVP demonstrating great value to your users. It will save you money, gain insights into your users’ needs, and help to create a better product.

Summer Event – BSL and the Soldier of Orange

Summer Event – BSL and the Soldier of Orange

Our summer event this year was an opportunity for Martyn (Director, BSL) to finally experience a little Dutch culture. He’s not yet ready for the full Marco Borsato/Andre Hazes experience. So on June 6, we tore ourselves away from our work, and stood in the sunshine outside the office, waiting for a coach. A coach that was going to take us all to Katwijk, and the Soldier of Orange!

Keylane Careers – a Recruitment Challenge

Keylane Careers – a Recruitment Challenge

Recruiting talent for IT service providers is not easy. Good developers and designers are scarce. BSL uses our own website and several social platforms to find new talent. But when you’re a multinational, looking to recruit talent across Europe, you need to “Think Different”. And that’s just what the Keylane Careers team has been doing.

BSL team at the NN Rotterdam Marathon 2019

BSL team at the NN Rotterdam Marathon 2019

In February, BSL received an invitation to take part in a charity Business Run during the NN Rotterdam Marathon on 7 April. Participants could sign up for a 10K (1/4 marathon), with the goal of raising money for a good cause – the Linda Foundation. This charity helps make life a little brighter for less fortunate children in the Netherlands.

Oracle – MySQL Bootcamp in Dusseldorf (the boys on tour)

Oracle – MySQL Bootcamp in Dusseldorf (the boys on tour)

BSL has a lot of experience with Oracle databases and has been an Oracle partner for years. We were recently invited by Oracle to a MySQL Bootcamp held in Dusseldorf. The purpose of the Bootcamp was to learn more about the MySQL Enterprise edition, the commercial edition of MySQL. Two of our developers want to share their experience…

Will the proposed ‘EU Copyright Directive’ endanger the Internet?

Will the proposed ‘EU Copyright Directive’ endanger the Internet?

While the Brexit soap has all our attention, the EU is working away on their own controversial proposal: their EU Copyright Directive. This directive will endanger the Internet. A claim made by many journalists and technical gurus, including Tim Berners-Lee and Jimmy Wales.

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